As summer finally comes to Melbourne, families can again gravitate towards the water – however the beach is no longer the only option on a hot summers day. Melbourne has seen a rise in the number of water and splash play areas being included in new and renovated playgrounds. While some splash play will get the children really soaked, requiring towels and a full change of clothes, others can provide hours of entertainment and cool relief for little hands and feet with a small flow of moving water.
Booran Reserve, Glen Huntly
You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard about Booran Reserve. Glen Eira council spent over $10million to build this huge play space and it paid off as this playground is now a must visit for children across the state. The playground has a huge range of elements, structures and play spaces, all dominated by a huge rope climb dome to the top of a giant slide. The splash play at Booran Reserve is a dedicated space full of jets and sprays of water that really dance around. Kids will find it almost impossible to have a play here without getting a full drenching.
Maritime Cove Community Park, Perce White Reserve, Port Melb
Overlooking Sandridge Beach, so you can play and swim, this playground officially opened in February 2017 as part of as part of the $1.6 billion redevelopment of neighbouring Webb Dock. The playground features a range of attractions that showcase the area’s maritime and waterside heritage. There are loads of challenging features for kids of all ages including hand pumps and troughs to indulge with some water play and a seesaw pump to make the sprinklers on the top of old pier poles spray the kids below.
Harlston Park, Elsternwick
A gem in the leafy streets of Elsternwick, it is soon to see a pretty major upgrade to its facilities – but lovers of this little oasis can rest easy as the proposed redevelopment plans will see the fantastic rock river water feature retained for endless summer paddling.
Basterfield Park, Hampton East
This stunning park on the South side, with it’s lake full of ducks, has a push operated tap that the children can toggle to flow water into troughs. It is simple and yet wonderfully entertaining for little ones and perfect on a hot day. There is also a great flying fox for extra fun!
Another beautiful seaside playground – though this one is aimed more at the younger family members as it is fully fenced and its elements are generally on a smaller scale. The water play at Plum Garland is simple but when combined with its sandy surrounds its certainly entertaining.
The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is a leafy oasis in the city – the connection the children make with the garden as they move around is beautiful. The whole garden is fully fenced (always a bonus!) and the perfect spot for an idyllic family picnic. The water play has a shallow snake like creek that flows from a rock mound through different sections of the garden, perfect for boat races and little feet, as well as a stone spiral water play area.
On a beautiful site that was once home to the Seville Memorial Swimming Pool the Seville Water Play Park is completely unique and fun for children of all ages. The water play area was thoughtfully designed to represent the surrounding mountains, gorges and deltas – with a huge splash zone shooting water in all directions. If a full soaking isn’t for you Seville also has one of the simplest and yet loveliest little additions to its playground area – a huge natural rock with little channels carved into it. Children toggle a small water fountain and then watch as the water splits and runs into the white sand play area at the base of the rock, simple and so very effective.
Offering exceptional ‘bang for your buck’ the Lilydale Lake playground, is a winner for all ages and abilities. Located next to the beautiful lake and bike path, this huge, new playground has an abundance of fantastic play features like a liberty swing, double flying fox and even some parkour elements. It also has not one but two water play areas – the first is a huge splash pad with jets of water that alternate on timers. As a bonus it also has a simple rock bed river, shaded by lovely trees, where children can toggle the water and collect and release the flow with small dams.
In 2016 it was awarded the best playground in the nation by the Australian Institute for Landscape Architects – and it’s easy to see why. It was designed to help inner city children find an element of unpredictable play, in a challenging and nature based play space. The gardens and structures are all beautiful and perfectly placed, and of course the water play is not an exception to this. It has hand pumps, water spurts, sprays and small channels to guide the water down to the sandpit below.
The Community Bank Adventure Playground in Wallan is an exceptional, all-abilities playground that was opened in December 2016. It was actually funded in partnership with the local council, State Government and Wallan & Kilmore Community Bank® Branches of Bendigo Bank – what a great This busy cafe offers lots of space, and plenty of menu choices for everyone including delicious! It has
a fun and feature packed splash playground with splash pad of water jets, water tables
with pumps, troughs and channels and
even a dump bucket.
Bundoora Park Playspace
If its not a full soaking you are after then the Bundoora Park Playspace might be your choice for the day – a simple hand pump activated by the children will allow the water to flow and the kids to do as they please. Its only a small amount of water play but since this is all just a short stroll to the nearby farm and cafe, Bundoora Park is certainly worth a mention.
The very centrally located Ron Barassi Snr Playground in the Docklands is set almost directly underneath the Bolte Bridge, with a view to the Melbourne Star. The area has a large green football oval (an obvious nod to the great man), and the playground is marked by a huge timber tower with two slides snaking out. The water play here is great, the children toggle the water to make it flow through the shallow channels allowing feet to splash and boat races to run.
The Riverwalk Water Park is top of the list and a winner for Werribee – it’s also one of the biggest dedicated water playgrounds in the State. The parklands in this Estate are a huge asset to its residents with lush grass areas – perfect for picnics, huge playground, basketball courts and native gardens. But the water play is the feature here – the top end of the park has huge boulders and jets of water that form a small waterfall a few steps below. The main splash play space seriously has it all – pumps, troughs, fountains, misters, spurts and dump buckets – it’s impossible to come of out this area dry!
It doesn’t actually contain actual crocodiles but it is still most certainly worth a visit for some great splash play!! The parklands were built for the local community to enjoy in many ways but the elements of water are all for the children. There is a stream of water that flows around stepping stones, and then the feature crocodiles that have water spurting from their mouths into a shallow wading area.
By Jane Murphy. Jane is a mother of two energetic young boys who has managed to tie her love for exploring amazing playgrounds into a career with www.playgroundfinder.com, a national database of over 5000 playgrounds! Follow their faves and features on Facebook or Instagram